I work as a chef in a five star restaurant and, often, people ask me the differences between Japanese and German kitchen knives. Recently, a college student on internship at our restaurant asked me about the distinction between Japanese and German kitchen knives. As an expert in kitchen appliances, I was more than willing to help the young man.
First and foremost, I talked about sharpness. Typically, Japanese kitchen knives are sharper and thinner blades than German ones. When cooking vegetables and fish, professionals chefs opt to use Japanese knives because of their fine cuts. However, when cutting heavier foods, it is difficult for Japanese knives to penetrate with ease. German kitchen knives, on the other hand, though not as sharp, have thicker blades that can cut through heavier foods like squash. I advised the aspiring top chef that for high quality restaurants, fine cuts on delicate foods like fish and vegetables require Japanese kitchen knives. I further told him that there are a range of top Japanese kitchen knives to choose from, of course, depending on one’s preferences.
Secondly, I explained to the student the aspect of steel content on the blades of both Japanese and German kitchen knives. The steel on Japanese knives has a high content of carbon, which basically means that they are able to maintain their sharp edge for a longer time compared to the German knives. However, the high carbon steel makes a Japanese knife vulnerable to rust. On the contrary, a German kitchen knife is made of softer steel. Thus, it requires frequent sharpening, which might cause quick wearing out compared to a Japanese kitchen knife.
Lastly, it was of great interest for the student to know that Japanese kitchen knives are harder than German ones. This makes them have a better capacity to cut foods with ease. German knives, on the other hand, are softer to enable easier sharpening.
After differentiating between Japanese and German kitchen knives, the intern asserted that he preferred a Japanese kitchen knife to a German one. Well, I advised him to check online reviews for the top Japanese kitchen knives before purchasing any. I must say that it was truly a worthwhile experience with a curious college student.
Additional information: Japanese cutlery